Happy Friday everyone! Most of the country is currently being pummeled with snow and freezing cold temperatures. We are also in an arctic freeze of television, in that terrible limbo in-between the first and second half of most TV show seasons. And I don’t know about any of you, but one show that I’m really ready to premier again is The Walking Dead.
The nice thing is that the zombie genre is alive and well (no pun intended), and there are many books featuring our favorite undead creatures. So whether you’re preparing for the zombie apocalypse, and would like some pointers, or are just interested in something to tide you over until Norman Reedus can do the killin’ for you, here are some recommendations.
Five Books to Read if Zombies Are Your Thing
By: Robert Kirkman
This one is kind of a no-brainer, which is basically what a zombie is, right? No brain? Get it?? Okay. Moving on. This is the graphic novel that started it all, featuring the characters everyone has come to love and/or hate on the show. It’s a classic of zombie literature, known for its brutal depiction of a world where the dead rise, and survivors have as much or more to fear from the living. Its central character, Rick Grimes, a former police officer, weighs questions of how society, morality and justice survive in a world where every day is a fight just to stay alive.
By: Carrie Ryan
This was the first zombie book I read, and I came across it accidentally. On the back cover, the copy reads: “In Mary’s world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent.” I thought this was sort of like M. Night Shamalyn’s “The Village.” What I did not understand was that “the unconsecrated” meant zombies. By the time I figured that out, I was already swept up in the dark beauty of Mary’s world and her journey to find some life outside the relative “safety” of her isolated, strict village. The farther she journeys, the more we see of how the world tried (and failed) to prepare for the outbreak. Most zombie books take place in the immediate aftermath of a zombie apocalypse, but The Forest of Hands and Teeth begins several generations later. Instead of asking how society would survive, it shows what has survived–and who, and how.
It’s as bleak and brutal as any zombie story out there, but also feature epic romance and a faint but real hope. So, if you prefer to journey into the zombie apocalypse with teenagers, kissing and a sense that the world hasn’t completely ended forever, I’d highly recommend The Forest of Hands and Teeth, along with its sequels, The Dead-Tossed Waves and The Dark and Hollow Places.
By: Mira Grant
Full disclosure: I haven’t read Feed. It was recommended to me by a fellow book nerd, and promptly jumped to the top of my TBR pile. Feed takes place twenty years after a zombie apocalypse, and follows two bloggers invited to cover the campaign trail of a presidential hopeful. So, yes, in this depiction, American government has survived. Social media is the dominant form of press, as the traditional media was branded untrustworthy when they didn’t correctly report on the outbreak. This book is as much a political thriller and social commentary as it is a zombie book. Mira Grant was praised for her inventive take on the genre, and Feed, along with its sequels, Deadline and Blackout looks to stand in a category all its own.
By: Isaac Marion
Another atypical take on the zombie genre, Warm Bodies a clever, sweet and ultimately quite hopeful zombie . . . love story. After Twilight, it seemed for a while that any mythical creature was a ripe opportunity for am epic romance. We saw angel love stories, vampires, werewolves, even mermaids. But zombies? Gross.
Enter Isaac Marion, and his protagonist, R, a zombie who eats the occasional human, has no pulse but remains remarkably, well, human, and learns even more about being a human after eating the brain of a boy named Perry, and understanding Perry’s memories of his girlfriend, Julie. When Julie and R meet, an unlikely un-dead romance begins. One of the reasons zombies are so interesting is that they are human . . . but not human at all. It calls into question how we see ourselves and what ultimately makes us human. This book will make you feel quite human, and maybe even a little teary-eyed by the end.
By: Max Brooks
If you’ve seen the movie, don’t worry — it’s so completely different from this book that you’ll not be certain you’re even reading the same story. World War Z is an incredible, detailed and global account of a zombie outbreak. Told in a series of interviews ten years after humanity has (mostly) eradicated the zombie hordes, this book has no central character. It’s the story of the entire world at first succumbing to and eventually overcoming a mass outbreak. The level of detail is masterful. Brooks shows us organ smugglers in South America unintentionally spreading the disease via illegal surgeries, a catastrophic military operation in Yonkers, a strategist in South Africa who goes mad from his own brutal, but effective plan to defeat the zombies. It’s tragic, human and ultimately hopeful. Throughout the book, you see a world on the brink of utter collapse that manages to fight back. It’s an astounding work, and a must-read for anyone who loves zombies or just plain good storytelling.
So there you have it! Five books to tide you over until The Walking Dead begins, or if you’re just looking outside at the arctic landscape and thinking a zombie apocalypse might be imminent.